Mills bags VSDA Speedcar opener

Echuca’s Travis “Squizzy” Mills drove superbly last night to best a stellar field of Speedcars and win the season opening event at Avalon Raceway.

“The track’s a little tricky, it’s got a bit more drive than most of us expected but I can feel the improvements in the car and engine from last year.” Stated Mills earlier in the evening. “It’s great to have so many cars here to start the season and they’re all good cars so I know it’s not going to be easy to win and I and the rest of field are looking forward to the challenge.”

Coming home second with his fresh off the boat new acquisition was Geelong’s Domain Ramsey who was in a barnstorming mood with a couple of demon restart sliders elevating his position throughout the event which was declared  a few laps early when Tasmanian Champion Joe Lostitch rolled to bring on the second red light of the final.

“I just spun and tried to keep my foot into it and it just stood up and fell over.” was his honest assessment.

A fine third place belonged to Sydney based teenager Kaidon Brown who had to work hard throughout the feature.

After some brilliant heat racing and some upside down moments for Justin McMinn and Keith Astrella it was a slightly unexpected line up come feature time with some of the more fancied runners a little further back than usual which promised some great racing action.

Jackson was on pole from Parker, Mills, Matt Papa, Andy Pearce, Ash Booker, Ramsey, Lostitch, Brown, Glen Shaw, Ryan McKenna, Jack Day, Toby and Craig Smith, Dillon Ghent and Troy Wooley. David Alford and Astrella had machine issues and were unable to start the main as was Mike Griffith whose car refused to fire also.

Rookie Dillon Ghent was showing some great speed until lap 3 of the final when Andy Pearce spun and Ramsey steered onto the infield to avoid him sending up a dust cloud that obscured vision. With other cars spinning and stopping Ghent was unable to see the carnage too clearly and “it all went to poo from there” as he hit the wall and showered the sky in sparks as he flipped.

On the restart Parker led Matt Jackson and Mills away who’d already shown he had good speed.

Jack Day then spun on lap 6 and still Parker was leading but not for long as Mills soon took the lead.

The Smith family then held a family reunion on lap 9 when young Toby tagged the back of Uncle Craig spinning them both out and tipping Toby over.

From there the race ran some consistent fast laps until the Lostitch roll brought proceedings to an early end.

Final results were Mills, Ramsey, Brown, Parker, Ash Booker, Jackson, Glen Shaw, Matt Papa and Craig Smith.

Papa stormed to the win in heat 1 from Ramsey and Lostitch, while Jackson scored a first up win for his new car owner in heat 2 from Brown and Pearce.

Mills adjusted the car to win heat 3 from Shaw and Pearce while Parker won heat 4 from Booker and Lostitch.

Super Victorian Speedcar Season Starts this Saturday.

Huge field to kick off 2017 season at Avalon.

WOW!!! The Victorian Speedcar Drivers Association (VSDA) is kicking off the new season in a way that hasn’t been seen for many years, in fact many decades, with a huge field of nominations (25) set to open the new season at Avalon raceway this weekend (October 7th).

“I’m really excited and proud about the season ahead”, said club President and car owner Tim Fisher. “We’ve got 25 nominations for the first race and a regular base here at Avalon that I feel will only help to grow the class even more.”

Yes, that’s right, 25 nominations to open the season, and it’s an early season start which is usually not conducive to big numbers. These are the sort of numbers that haven’t been seen since the 1980’s in the days of the much lamented Melbourne Speedbowl.

Added to the burgeoning cast of the fast is a handful of rookies that bring undoubted family racing genetics and history and continue the stunning multi-generational family that is the VSDA.

18 year-old Dillon Ghent will follow his Sister, Father and Grandfather into the ranks behind the wheel of the family’s V27 Spike powered by Paul Jordan’s’ Mopar engine.

25 year-old Chris Nankiville is similarly a 3rd generation racer with an outstanding pedigree and he will debut behind a similar Spike/Mopar wearing number 20 for his family owned team.

Andrew Lardner will take the wheel of the ubiquitous #5 to keep the family connection alive while Daniel Timberlake continues a strong family speedway heritage with a difference.

Timberlake is not young, being 42 years old, and similarly bucking the rookie trend he, his father and brothers speedway racing careers have all been conducted with a roof over their heads.

With a background in Modified Production Sedans, V8 Dirt Models and Late Model Sedans, Timberlake explained that he surprisingly “has always loved and wanted a Speedcar.”

“It’s the different combinations of cars and engines and the ingenuity and engineering in them and the history behind them that I love.” stated the Bannockburn resident.

These rookies will need to learn fast but will have the combined talents of some of Australia’s best to help them along the way with guns, Travis Mills, Ashley Booker, Domain Ramsey, Kaidon Brown, Joe Lostitch, Glen Shaw, Nick Parker and many others to regularly show them the fast way around.

Adding to the class will be Sydney’s Matt Jackson who has taken up the seat in Fishers renumbered V23 while Luke Bowey will head east from his South Australian base to get an early hit out ahead of his home state holding this years’ National Championship.

Other exciting news for the VSDA includes a long awaited return to Ballarat’s Redline Raceway on March 24th for the Bill Evans Classic. Speedcars were once the premier class at the regional venue with brilliant fields of cageless cars and National superstars contesting the hallowed Craven Mild series and other major events.

The club is also pleased to be taking the 73rd Victorian Speedcar Championship back to the Premier Speedway high banks on January 7th.

Two other significant events will be held at Avalon being the Beasley Memorial (Nov 25th) and Skips Race (Mar 17th).

With events at Darlington, Portland, Laang, Bairnsdale and Wangaratta as well as the previously mentioned venues the 84 year-old club is looking forward to one of their best seasons ever.

VSDA 2017/18 race calendar (subject to change)

October              

7              Avalon – Round 1 Track Championship
21            Darlington – Mid Western Raceway.

November         

11           To Be Confirmed
25           Avalon – Beasley Memorial/Rd 2 Track Championship

December          

9             Avalon - Round 3 Track Championship
16           Portland
28           Laang

January               

7             Warrnambool – 73rd Victorian Speedcar Championship   
13           Avalon  - G-Town Rumble/Rd 4 Track Championship

February            

9/10       Murray Bridge SA – Australian Speedcar Championship
24           Bairnsdale

March                

17           Avalon – Skips Race/Rd 5 Track Championship.
24           Redline – Bill Evans Classic

April                  

7             Wangaratta
21           Avalon – Round 6 Track Championship.

Further details and a complete list of nominations can be found on the VSDA facebook page.

Sandown 500 Seatbelt Gate Busted

With “Seatbelt Gate” still on the front page I want to spend a few minutes showing you how much time and effort it would take to cheat in this department.

The picture is of a standard FIA Standard 8853-2016 Belt buckle.



As you can clearly see only three holes are available to be pinned off and only three configurations are able to be ordered from the manufacturer.  From those three configurations you can choose ONE and only ONE under the FIA Standard.  

The pin is in the crutch position on this buckle. So to lock off any other configuration serious remanufacturing would need to occur.

In this image you see a hole would need to be drilled in just the right location.  It would need to be perfectly located to make the rest of the mechanism still work and release the other tongues as required.

You would need to totally disassemble the buckle, order or make new parts and reassemble.  However by doing this you have totally changed from an approved and tested product to an unapproved and totally illegal product.   Without even stating the obvious, Safety is paramount and this is why all seatbelts must be extensively tested and certified by the FIA for use in competition.

If anyone thinks what happened at Sandown in the Supercar Series with “Seatbelt Gate” is acceptable, they need to go have a good hard look at themselves!

Altering approved devices and zip tying belts together has been outlawed by the FIA for 18 months.  

If serious penalties are not handed down to ALL offending teams it will just show the system is a total joke.

CAMS, Supercars investigating seatbelt safety after TMC broke story

The Confederation of Australian Motor Sport and Supercars are working with the FIA on an investigation into seatbelts used in the category following the recent Wilson Security Sandown 500.

The issue has been raised following the event after television footage appeared to show at least one harness that had been modified from its homologated state.

CAMS and Supercars have both confirmed via statements that an investigation is taking place in conjunction with the FIA.

“CAMS is currently looking into the issue, working closely with the FIA, Supercars and the relevant manufacturers,” said a CAMS statement.

Supercars’ sporting and technical director David Stuart stressed the category’s dedication to safety standards.

“We are working in conjunction with CAMS on this particular area with the safety of drivers always our highest priority,” he said.

“Accordingly, we will work with CAMS and the FIA and we are seeking clarity in regard to their requirements.

“If a rule needs to be modified to ensure compliance then that will be implemented.”

While no teams have been officially named, the Fox Sports broadcast appeared to show an anomaly with the belts on the Red Bull Holden Racing Team’s Shane van Gisbergen/Matt Campbell entry.

It appears in the footage that the car’s left lap belt and shoulder belt were permanently connected to the five-point harness’ release box, rather than the single point that is homologated.

Such a move would simplify the process of doing up the belt in a driver change, but potentially make it more difficult to extract the driver from the car in an accident.

Red Bull HRT manager Mark Dutton told Supercars.com he does not believe any of his team’s cars were running with two permanent pins in the latch.

He did, however, stress that the team has long used cable-ties to keep the lap and shoulder belts connected, making them easier to reach when unbuckled in a stop.

That procedure has been accepted in the past and is widely used throughout the field, but is also outside the seatbelt’s FIA homologation and may be outlawed following the current investigation.

“I need to check that one hasn’t slipped past the post, but our standard procedure forever has been cable-tying them,” said Dutton.

“We started doing that in the earlier days with Jamie [Whincup], spending a lot of time and effort on the belts, elastics and cable-ties.

“My understanding is that’s what we’ve always done and I haven’t seen otherwise in the car.

“I’m looking forward to a clarification (on the rules) because it means we can lock down exactly what we’re doing (from Bathurst onwards).

“We’ve done what’s been acceptable in the past, but if a clarification comes through to say it’s not acceptable anymore, we’re not going to argue with that.”

Seatbelt rules had also been tweaked before the PIRTEK Enduro Cup last year, when the FIA banned attaching elastic straps to the shoulder belts.

Where did it all go wrong?

Interpreting rules can sometimes be an extremely complex scenario.  Reading the rules and updates can be confusing to the highly educated and mistakes can be made.

However “Seatbelt Gate” at the Sandown 500, this appears to not be the case. The rules are extremely well written and very clear.

So how did this all go so wrong for the self-proclaimed most professional touring car series in the world!

To clear up any misconceptions I’m going to show you exactly what the rules states.  

FIA Standard 8853 -2016 (Safety Harnesses) which was introduced in February 2016, applies to the Australian Supercar Series as specified in the Supercars operations manual 2017, division C 5.2.


FIA Standard 8853 -2016

DEFINITION OF A SAFETY HARNESS 3.1

An arrangement of straps with a securing buckle, adjusting devices, tongues and attachments capable of being anchored to the interior of a power driven vehicle to restrain the driver.

This is the part where it gets real juicy and where it goes all wrong for the offending teams……

STRAPS 4.2

The shoulder and pelvic straps shall not be attached to each other, but shall each be engaged in and/or released from the securing buckle by their individual tongues.

SECURING BUCKLE 4.4

The operation of the opening mechanism of the buckle shall produce, by itself alone and with a single simple movement of one hand in one direction, that each tongue is ejected or that the latching mechanism shall remain in the open position.

Standard 4.2 prevents zip tying of the shoulder and pelvic straps together.  This rule is extremely clear and easy to interpret and understand.

Standard 4.4 prevents shoulder straps being locked off in the securing buckle.  This rule is extremely clear and easy to i interpret and understand also.

As stated this rule came into effect in February 2016 and the Supercar Operations manual of 2017 section C reflects this standard.

The offending teams do not have a leg to stand on and should feel the full wrath of the FIA.

We are conducting a poll on the punishment.  Please click here to have your say.

Tampered Seatbelts Found at Sandown 500

Seatbelts from the Sandown 500 have had their FIA Certification “Cut off” under instruction from Nuno Costa, Head of Safety Equipment Homologation at the FIA because of alleged illegal product tampering.

Costa has been made aware of alleged product tampering of the Willans brand belts and made the call to CAMS Technical Manager, Scott McGrath to have the products decertified and removed from competition immediately.    It is suggested that Costa also went as far as ordering a full audit of all supercar seatbelts that competed in the event.

In Sundays race, anomalies during one of the pit stops were noticed on the Foxsports coverage.  The seatbelts in at least one multi car team were clearly connected in more than one spot.

Belt manufacturer Willans was more than forthcoming with information and stated that none of their products for saloon cars have multi connection points.
 
“Willans harnesses are offered with a choice of release box connections -  to the left lap strap, the right lap strap or to the crutch strap. We do not offer any harnesses with multiple permanent connections to the release box as this would be in violation of the FIA regulation 8853-2016.“ states Simon Perkins Managing Director.

Perkins then reported the illegal product tampering to the FIA and subsequently recalled the certification on those products.

The point of a releasing belt is so in an emergency a driver can be extricated without any obstruction.   As we saw in the Saturday race with young Todd Hazlewood ending upon his side after a massive wreck, if the cars in question were involved it would have made it dramatically harder to get the driver out safely particularly if the driver was unconscious or seriously injured.    

We all look for advantages in motorsport as that’s what makes it interesting but the allegations around altering an FIA safety device is taking it way too far to get and advantage.